Alfonso 'Little Al' D'Arco, the former acting boss of the Luchese crime family, was the highest-ranking mobster to ever turn government witness when he flipped in 1991.
His decision to flip prompted many others to make the same choice, including John Gotti's top aide, Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, and his testimony sent more than fifty mobsters to prison. In Mob Boss, award-winning news reporters Jerry Capeci and Tom Robbins team up for this unparalleled account of D'Arco's life and the New York mob scene that he embraced for four decades.
Until the day he switched sides, D'Arco lived and breathed the old-school gangster lessons he learned growing up in Brooklyn and fine-tuned on the mean streets of Little Italy. But when he learned he was marked to be whacked, D'Arco quit the mob. His defection decimated his crime family and opened a window on mob secrets going back a hundred years.
After speaking with D'Arco, the authors reveal unprecedented insights, exposing shocking secrets, and troublesome truths about a city where a famous pizza parlor doubled as a Mafia center for multi-million-dollar heroin deals, where hit men carried out murders dressed as women, and where kidnapping a celebrity newsman's son was deemed appropriate revenge for the father's satirical novel.
Capeci and Robbins spent hundreds of hours in conversation with D'Arco, and exhausted many hours more fleshing out his stories in this riveting narrative that takes listeners behind the famous witness testimony for a comprehensive look at the Mafia in New York City.
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Best mob book for a long time!
I wish there had been more.
Not only can I unreservedly recommend it, if it wouldn't get me arrested I would even be grabbing strangers in the street and telling them about it. Well written and engaging from the first paragraph, it was let down only very slightly by the reader, who demonstrated a rather narrow range of accents and voices. Mostly that did not matter since all the characters were from the same background but when D'Arco had a (fortunately brief) meeting with a black gangster it did grate somewhat to hear him speaking the same twangy Brooklyn as the Mafiosos. Despite that, Prichard was a good choice for the storyteller. His somewhat flat intonation was a worthy match for a writing style which deflected any revulsion the listener might have about the violence of the criminal life so as to allow concentration on the matter-of-fact, bureaucratic way that crime was organised by D'Arco and his circle.
For the writing itself, "Mob Boss" is a biography of one man pursuing a Mafia career with the same stolid determination and contextual honesty as an accountant. It was a fascinating and well-constructed insight into a parallel universe, flowing from one incident to the next with the sort of apparent ease that comes only from a lot of very hard work.
In the introduction we are told that the book is based on hundreds of hours of interview tapes and written statements and I am sure that Capeci and Robbins both suffered many headaches carving that sprawling mountain of information into a coherent narrative. It was a massive piece of work and yet I should think that when they had finished it, they must have been--as I was--sorry to get to the end.